Art for a Good Cause: A Collab with Jeff “Doc” Lausch

September 07, 2018
By Matt Beard
Surfboards on Parade 2018:
Final Auction: October 07, 2018

Lots of scattered thoughts on this one, not sure how to tie it all together… bear with me.

I’ve been surfing nearly all of my life, and painting nearly even longer. Back in 2011/2012 I had the idea to invite some of my favorite artists to team up with shapers and create unique art boards and sell or auction them to benefit SurfAid International. We called it the Board Art Benefit and to be honest it was really just a bit of a scheme to have some fun but we ended up raising over $30,000 for SurfAid by the time the dust settled. I was also an unlikely culprit to spearhead such an event, being that I’ve only painted a handful of boards in my life and prefer my boards to have no art on them. I truly see the surfboard as functional art already and when used for its highest purpose it is immersed in Creation itself and needs no further adornment.

After we concluded the Board Art Benefit, I was done with organizing artists. We’re nuts, in a good way of course, but still I was a  little burned out from all the work and effort. But I wasn’t done with using my art to raise money for nonprofits and great causes. I went on from that experience to launch AidCurrent (aidcurrent.com), an experimental online tool designed to track an artist’s fundraising efforts. Since I began using it in 2013, I’ve seen my art raise over $44,500 for over 70 different nonprofits.

When Surfboards on Parade began it was exciting to see someone taking the idea of surfboard art for a good cause to the next level. Many of the original artists and shapers from the Board Art Benefit were recruited from the start and produced amazing pieces for the event. In fact if you scroll their facebook photo feed, you’ll see the third photo they posted was actually a cropped flyer for the Board Art Benefit showing the original boards we made for our event. (Linky:https://www.facebook.com/441816709261122/photos/a.450305098412283/450304915078968/?type=3&theater) I wasn’t asked to do a board at the time, but I was still proud to see the work going forward.

As the first Surfboards on Parade event unfolded, raising money to support Hoags’ Hospital Cancer Institute to further education and research for skin cancer, my sister was losing the final battle of her ten year war with skin cancer. We buried her body in Long Beach, CA not far from Huntington Beach where Surfboards on Parade took place.

Did I mention I grew up in Long Beach? The early years of my surfing life took root all over Orange County, from Seal Beach, to Huntington, to Newport, and beyond. I’d go wherever my older brother wanted to go. Surfside Jetty mostly. Or I’d lie to my folks and tell them I was riding my bike to the beach with a friend in order to go alone and find my own peak on the miles of empty stretches between the focal points of the piers and jetties and parking lots. This is where I fell in love with surfing marginal waves in total solitude.

No wonder then, that when I was 18 I went off to school as far from the metropolii of LA and Orange Counties, and fled north to the remote northern coast of Humboldt which is where I reside to this day. Since moving north 25 years ago I’ve pursued my path as an artist relentlessly and regular travels across the entire length of the state eventually became the foundation for my life’s work, painting the entire California coastline, from border to border.  At this point, I’ve painted over 500 paintings of the state’s coast with an average of less than 2 miles between each painting. A life of looking around the next bend in the coast for surf has led to a life of painting every bend in the coast that I can. California is my home. It’s what I know. So it’s also what I paint.

When I was asked this year to paint a board for Surfboards on Parade, it meant a lot to me on several levels. First, it meant the most to me to have this opportunity to honor my sister and use my art to battle the beast called cancer that stole her (and countless others) away from us far too soon. Secondly, for all the shows and events I’ve been part of all over California, this would be a homecoming of sorts- the first major show I’ve been part of along the stretch of coast that shaped my early surfing life. And thirdly, with my background organizing an event that was in many ways a precursor to Surfboards on Parade, returning as a participant is a true honor.

The next question after being asked to participate was what shaper would I work with. I have a tremendous respect for the art of shaping, and like I mentioned earlier I truly don’t think a surfboard needs “art” on it, it’s already a complete work of art. That said, this event was about painting a board so finding the right shaper to collaborate with was important. If I was going to paint a board, maybe only the 4th I’ve ever done (and possibly the last, who knows?), I knew I didn’t want to just paint any old board. I wanted to find a shaper who I could connect with and pursue a vision together.

I chose Jeff “Doc” Lausch to work with for a few reasons. He had done a board in our Board Art Benefit years ago with a different artist and I always appreciated that. But mostly I knew I wanted to work with a Huntington area shaper, and for years my brother ordered boards from him and we’d see him in the water from time to time so there was a personal connection as well. On top of that, he’s a true artist and had even done a board in the past for Surfboards on Parade as a shaper AND artist. Say no more. I was stoked to hear he was willing to work with me.

I wanted this board to be an homage to California, my home. I chose artwork that would epitomize two classic California elements: poppies, and pointbreaks. And since this year’s Surfboards on Parade event was being held in conjunction with the Surfing Walk of Fame, I compiled a list of previous inductees that were from California, and printed their names directly on the fiberglass that the board was glassed with before I painted it in order to highlight this state’s contribution to the sport and culture of surfing.

After the painting was completed the board was returned to Doc for a gloss coast, pin lines, and a hand-made glassed-on fin. The finished piece is ready to be ridden, and I hope it will be at least once. After all it’s a fully functional work of art already… it just happens to have a paint job under the glass.

 

 

 

 

 

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